I think it’s safe to say that the NFL’s first(and most likely last) virtual draft was a great success. From the production quality, to analysis, and graphics, I thought the NFL did a great job in presenting a very unique draft experience. For the record, I’m sure Roger Goodell hopes he never has to go virtual again, as he was struggling to stay awake by the end of the night on Day two. Maybe a couple of Bourbon’s on the rocks next time or cup of coffee or two can help next time, Rog! For his sake, I’m sure he hopes it’s a one-time-only thing.
Ok, enough of my thoughts on the draft. Let’s get into the young men who were drafted. With their lifelong dreams fulfilled, we can now debate who will provide the most value to your dynasty rosters now and beyond. This will be the first of a two-part series, as I will break down both the Wide Receivers and Running Backs who were selected.
This week, we will discuss the wide receivers and whom I found to have landed in my favorite landing spots with their new teams.
Let’s dig in….
Tee Higgins – Cincinnati Bengals
Just when you thought his value dropped well below his talent level, Higgins found a way to rise again like the Phoenix. Landing in Cincinnati with Joe Burrow as his professional QB could not have been better for him and gives Burrow his version of Jamarr Chase at LSU. AJ Green will be 32 years old and a free agent after this season, and most likely gone. John Ross had his 5th year option declined, meaning he will leave after this season, too. The other receivers(Alex Erickson and Auden Tate) do not really pose any real threat to Higgins to steal targets. The WR group will belong to Higgins and Tyler Boyd. It’s already been said Higgins will start in three wide sets this season. I expect Higgins to contribute immediately, with the upside to be the second leading receiver behind Tyler Boyd. At this point in time, I think AJ Green’s status as an alpha WR1 are long behind.
Denzel Mims – New York Jets
I like this landing spot for the former Baylor Bear. Both Demariyus Thomas and Robby Anderson are gone, which leaves 154 vacated targets that Mims walks into. Now, Mims will have to show that he is good enough to earn those, but he will get every opportunity to showcase his skill set. Of those 154, 96 went to Anderson, 58 went to Thomas. Breshad Perriman signed for a 1 year deal and Jamison Crowder can be cut with a dead cap of 1 million after 2020. That would leave Mims as the alpha as early as 2021 if he shows he can play, leaving him as the only guy Darnold might trust amongst his receivers.
Michael Pittman, Jr – Indianapolis Colts
This might have been the most shocking selection of day two, (besides the Eagles taking Jalen Hurts with their second-round pick. That one is still a head scratcher ten days afterwards, for sure.) Anyway, back to Pittman. Being selected at #34 was shocking in the sense that no one thought he’d go that early. But he was slowly becoming a riser for me throughout the pre-draft process and that was validated on day two. Pittman walks into immediate opportunity to produce. TY Hilton is 31 years old and will be a free agent next year, along with Zach Pascal and Ashton Dulin. Marcus Johnson(who?) and Parris Campbell are the only other wide receivers on the roster and Pittman can take over as the alpha by 2021 if he proves he can play. I think you can make a reasonable argument that he can produce Pascal’s numbers from last year(41/607/5 on 72 targets). I’m excited about Pittman and you should too. Target him in the early-mid 2nd of your rookie drafts.
CeeDee Lamb – Dallas Cowboys
It’s still hard to wrap my head around this landing spot and how far Lamb fell in the draft. The Cowboys selected him with the 17th overall pick and this has the makings of being the best value 2-3 years from now. Lamb slots in immediately as the WR3 for the Cowboys and supplants Randall Cobb to fill the slot role. It is very well possible he also becomes the WR2 for Dallas and overcomes Michael Gallup, who is no slouch. But that is a testament to Lamb and his talents. Cobb and Witten are gone, both of whom had 83 targets each. Devin Smith, Tavon Austin, and Cedrick Wilson are his only competition after Gallup and Amari Cooper. Lamb will become an immediate favorite target for Dak and could prove to be a weekly flex option this year, with WR1 upside by 2021. Keep in mind, Dak threw the ball almost 600 times and the Cowboys had a 55/45 pass-run ratio. Don’t be afraid to draft Lamb in the 1st round of rookie drafts if he falls.
Henry Ruggs/Bryan Edwards – Las Vegas Raiders
I combined the two of them since they fell to the same team. Both are very intriguing in terms of opportunity where they landed, but the QB situation is not ideal. However, both will have every opportunity to make a statement and elevate themselves to the WR1 for Las Vegas. Nelson Agholor is signed on a 1 year deal. Tyrell Williams was signed in 2019 to a 4 year deal, but he can be cut in 2021 for no dead cap. Hunter Renfrow, as a 5th round rookie lead the team in receiving(49/605/4) on 71 targets. Ruggs and Edwards will walk in as the two best receivers for the new Las Vegas Raiders.
Jalen Reagor – Philadelphia Eagles
Why did the Eagles take Jalen Reagor instead of Justin Jefferson?
— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) April 25, 2020
Out of all the rookies drafted in this deep wide receiver class, Reagor may provide the most immediate impact beginning in week one. The top two Eagles receivers going into 2020 are DeSean Jackson(33) and Alshon Jeffrey(30). DeSean is coming off a lost 2019, isn’t getting any younger, and can be cut after this season. Jeffrey will stay in Philadelphia for 2020, but it is possible by 2021, he will either be traded or cut. If he’s cut, it will be for a much more reasonable dead cap hit than the 26 million it would be this year. He will have to compete with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert for targets, in which the duo combined for a 37% target share. That number is due for regression and those targets will get dispersed to Reagor, especially if he proves to be as advertised. Reagor is a great target at the end of the 1st round in rookie drafts to provide an excellent return on investment.
Justin Jefferson – Minnesota Vikings
Justin Jefferson vows to make the Eagles and three other teams pay for passing on drafting him https://t.co/7MQmJrnI5o
— Bleeding Green Nation (@BleedingGreen) May 3, 2020
Like Reagor, Jefferson landed in the best possible situation to provide immediate production. He will step into the Stefon Diggs role as the Vikings WR2, after the latter was traded to Buffalo in March. Diggs leaves 94 targets vacated, but keep an eye on second year tight end Irv Smith to cut into those opportunities. Besides Adam Thielen, there’s not much in terms of competition for Jefferson to establish himself early, as he’d have to overtake Olabisi Johnson and Tajae Sharpe. If you’re waiting to pick at the end of the first round, just wait and take Jefferson and hope he can turn into a flex option you can rely on.